Embattled Embree gets support from prez; program blasted by ex-Buff

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To say that the tenure of Jon Embree at Colorado has gotten off to an underwhelming start would be an understatement of epic proportions.

After winning just three games his first season, Embree’s Buffs started 2012 by losing to in-state rival Colorado State — and things have only gone down hill from there.  CU followed up that loss with a home defeat at the hands of FCS-level Sacramento State, then followed that up with a 55-point drubbing at the hands of Fresno State that saw the Bulldogs drop 55 points and roll-up over 500 yards of offense in the first half alone.

That sad state of affairs has prompted some, a mere 16 games into head-coaching career of the former CU player and assistant, to call for Embree’s head on a platter, silver or otherwise.  At least for now, though, one very prominent CU official is not paying heed to the screams for change.

Reacting to the calls for Embree’s dismissal, CU president Bruce Benson instead called for patience among the fan base and alumni as the football program attempts to rebuild from five straight losing seasons — the first time in the school’s history that had happened — under the previous head coach.

“I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, ‘This is the best set of coaches we’ve ever had and we’re really behind them and they’re great guys,'” Benson said according to the Denver Post. “Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve seen people upset. All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding. …

There’s no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we’re going to play it out. We’re going to rebuild and be positive and move forward.”

One former player, however, has come out with verbal guns blazing and aimed squarely at the football program.

In an expansive talk with the Daily Camera, Denver radio personality Matt McChesney, who was a player during Embree’s and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy‘s stints as Buffs assistants, blasted the state of CU football, labeling it a “disgrace” and “the worst program in the nation.”

While not calling (yet) for the firing of either Embree or Bieniemy, McChesney said “if I was in charge, Greg Brown would be fired today,” referring to CU’s defensive coordinator.  On that he might have a valid argument.

Last season, Colorado ranked 109th in scoring defense (36.5 points per game) and 102nd (439.3 yards per game) nationally.  This season, the Buffs are 112th (40.3 ppg) and 106th (479.7 ypg) in those categories.

And, even as he has somewhat tepid support for Embree, he’s putting the onus on the state of the football program squarely on his shoulders, and not that of the former head coach who left the program in tatters.

“I’d like to give Embree and E.B., the benefit of the doubt, but it’s really hard for me to do that after 69 points to Fresno and losing to Sac State and losing to CSU, and then having to look at our conference schedule the way we do,” McChesney said. “I mean, I don’t see a team that we can score a touchdown on let alone win. They’re going to all score 60 points on us.

“I’m not going to blame Dan Hawkins. I’ll tell you that. I’m not going to be that guy who just blames the old coach. This is Embree’s watch. It’s his responsibility.”

Unfortunately for Embree’s supporters, and likely to the delight of his detractors, it will get a helluva lot worse before it gets any better.The Buffs this weekend will begin a streak of nine straight Pac-12 games, with five of those coming against conference teams currently ranked inside the Top 25 of the most recent rankings.

Following that daunting gauntlet, we’ll see if the administration, including Benson and athletic director Mike Bohn, remains squarely in Embree’s corner.

Mother’s health — and playing time — triggered Byron Cowart’s Aurbun departure

Associated Press
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Initially, there was no known reason for one of the top recruits in the Class of 2015 left his original college football home. Not long after, the window of insight was cracked a bit.

Tuesday, Byron Cowart was granted a release from his Auburn scholarship, one day after requesting it from the football program. In an interview with al.com, the defensive lineman revealed that his mother in Florida is going through an unspecified health situation and, as an only child, he wanted to be closer to her to help her through it.

Additionally, he acknowledged that, yes, his playing time, or lack thereof, played a role in his decision to leave The Plains.

“I’m happy with my decision and I know that this ain’t it for me,” Cowart told the website. “My main reason was my mother’s health is more important. Me being an only child, got to get back to home to her. Plus I already wasn’t playing enough and contributing to the team.”

In a separate interview with 247Sports.com, Cowart also acknowledged that he has twice previously considered leaving the Tigers, the last coming this past summer.

Cowart also indicated that, very soon, he will be starting up classes nearer his home in Seffner, Fla., presumably at a junior or community college. After that, he’ll decide where to continue his collegiate playing career at the FBS level.

“I’ll see what options I have and what the NCAA allows me to do,” the junior lineman told al.com. “This isn’t over for me and this definitely is not the end of my college career. … I can guarantee you football is not over for me. I still love the game, I love everything about football.”

A consensus five-star signee, Cowart was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 while 247Sports.com had Florida product as the No. 3 player overall on its composite board. In 26 career games, Cowart was credited with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He was one of four Tigers arrested for marijuana possession in May of last year.

This past spring, Cowart was moved from end to tackle in an attempt to jumpstart his career. In three games at his new position this season, he had three tackles and half a tackle for loss in three games.

Div. II football player Robert Grays dies from neck injury sustained in game

Midwestern State athletics
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There’s horribly sad news to note today as Midwestern State University football player Robert Grays passed away Tuesday, the Division II school in Texas confirmed Wednesday morning.

Grays sustained a serious neck injury attempting to make a tackle during this past Saturday’s game against Texas A&M-Kingsville.  After initially being taken to a local hospital in Wichita Falls, he was life-flighted to a hospital in Houston, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

“Robert touched many lives while attending the university, but perhaps he will be remembered best for his smile,” a statement from university president Suzanne Shipley said, in part. “He was an inspiration on and off the field to those around him, and he will be remembered with love and affection by his friends, classmates, coaches, and teammates.”

Grays was listed as a 5-8, 160-pound sophomore cornerback on the Mustangs’ official roster.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Grays’ way-too-soon passing.

Wisconsin fans push two Provo bars to record-breaking financial weekend

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In a stunning development, it turns out that Wisconsinites (gasp!) like their beer.

Of course, it’s neither stunning nor a development that the state of Wisconsin tends to imbibe more than most others, as survey after survey after survey has suggested. This past weekend, a pair of Provo bars — in fact, the only two bar bars in the entire Mormon-heavy city — bore witness to the alcohol monolith that is the state in general and its college football fans in particular.

The Wisconsin Badgers invaded Provo Saturday for its Week 3 matchup with the BYU Cougars. With its fans in tow, it seemed as if the whole of the college football world was just daring Badger Nation to drink the city dry, a challenge from which they didn’t back down.

The damage? Both bars reported that they had their best financial weekends ever, thanks in very large part to the thirst of Badger Fan.

“Financially, it‘s the biggest day I’ve ever had here,” ABG’s Libation Emporium owner Gary Whitling told the Salt Lake Tribune, stating that he did triple the amount of business he would’ve normally done. For those curious, Wisconsinites mostly quenched their collective thirsts with Bud Light and Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

Despite the copious amount of imbibing, there were few if any incidents involving the out-of-towners, which serves s a significant testament to the fan base.

“It was a wonderful thing,” Whitling said. “The people from Wisconsin are fabulous. They‘re the nicest, funnest people we’ve ever had here.”

Shane Buechele taking majority of first-team reps at QB for Texas

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As expected, there will be no channeling of Lou Gehrig and Wally Pipp in Austin.  Probably.

Shane Buechele suffered an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder in Texas’ season-opening loss to Maryland. Ever since, Tom Herman has stated very firmly that Buechele would return to his starting job when healthy.

After watching Buechele take what the Austin American-Statesman‘s estimated to be 60 percent of the snaps with the first-team offense in practice Tuesday, the first-year UT head coach pronounced that there’s “[n]o Wally Pipp for the moment.”

Sam Ehlinger, who started both games since Buechele’s injury, took the rest of the snaps with the starting offense.

“Thought both of them looked good,” Herman said according to the American-Statesman. “I asked Shane towards the end of practice and he said, ‘Coach I feel good.’ So we’ll continue to monitor his progress. Last week, he was a bit sore each day after throwing. But with a couple of days off here, hopefully we can get that soreness out.”

Herman stopped short of naming Buechele the starter in their next game, against Iowa State, although the Longhorns have a bye this weekend before squaring off with the Cyclones on Thursday the 28th.

In his two starts, the true freshman Ehlinger completed 36-of-67 passes for 520 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Both of those picks came in UT’s near-upset of USC in Week 3.